Siddaramaiah flays BJP for excluding Dalit MPs

Siddaramaiah flays BJP for excluding Dalit MPs

Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Siddaramaiah. PTI File photo

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah on Wednesday sought to turn the tables against the BJP by attacking the saffron party for not inducting a single Dalit MP from Karnataka into the Union Cabinet.

This, however, ended up stoking a debate on a Dalit becoming Karnataka’s chief minister.

Five Dalits fielded by the BJP have won from Karnataka - Ramesh Jigajinagi (Bijapur), Umesh Jadhav (Gulbarga), A Narayanaswamy (Chitradurga), V Srinivasa Prasad (Chamarajnagar) and S Muniswamy (Kolar). 

“Mere big talk will not empower Dalits. I congratulate BJP candidates who won from reserved constituencies in the state. Still, not a single one was given an opportunity in the Union Cabinet. What else can be bigger injustice, deceit?” Siddaramaiah said in a tweet, which drew a sharp reaction from the BJP.

“We will get our Dalit MPs inducted into the Union Cabinet. But first, make a Dalit the chief minister of the state,” BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa shot back.

“There are seven reserved Lok Sabha constituencies in the state where BJP candidates won. I’m ready to approach the prime minister seeking a berth for them. But you’ve just been smearing ghee on Dalits’ noses by promising to make one of them the chief minister,” he said.

In a tweet, the BJP said: “Respected Twitter Ramaiah, don’t show your love towards Dalits only through your tweets. People of the state know that you deprived G Parameshwara of the CM’s position because he is a Dalit.” The party further dared Siddaramaiah to help Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge, also a Dalit, the chief minister.

Speaking to reporters later, Siddaramaiah said nobody was opposed to Kharge becoming the chief minister. “He should become the CM. But in 2013, all MLAs and the high command wanted me to be the CM,” he said.

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